Pleasant Bend: Upper Buffalo Bayou and the San Felipe Trail in the Nineteenth Century

Concertina Press, 2017, 434 pages with 270 photographs, charts, maps and tables

Beneath the concrete and glass of urban west Houston lie the remnants of a long-forgotten frontier that lay on either side of upper Buffalo Bayou. Settlement began here in 1824, a dozen years before the city of Houston was founded. Ox wagons full of cotton travelled from the Brazos River east to Harrisburg along the San Felipe Trail, built in 1830. Along the same wagon road, Texian families fled eastward during the Runaway Scrape of 1836, immigrant Germans trekked westward to new farms in the 1840s, and newly freed African American families walked eastward toward Houston after Emancipation. Along a part of this old road, Reconstruction-era cowboys assembled herds of longhorns and headed north along a southeastern branch of the Chisholm Trail. This is the story of the forgotten pioneers who settled rural western Harris County – not the early movers and shakers of the city of Houston, but the everyday men and women who lived on the frontier that lay to its west. They were farmers and planters, slaves and freedmen, soldiers and innkeepers, sawyers and cowboys. By the end of the nineteenth century, their hard work resulted in a peaceful rural paradise for their children and grandchildren. Urban Houston’s explosive expansion during the twentieth century buried their story, until now.

A fascinating history of upper Buffalo Bayou and the 19th century San Felipe Trail.

– Joe Holley, Houston Chronicle, June 2, 2017

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